Why you might roll your eyes:
Going to the Mall to see the fireworks is a hassle, with the security checkpoints, the hours-long wait once you’ve staked out a spot, the lack of cell service thanks to the concentration of people, and the horrifically crowded Metro ride home.
Why you’ll love it:
There’s a reason the crowds are huge- the National Park Service puts on a great show, and the thrill of watching the pyrotechnics with the Washington Monument in sight is an only-in-DC experience.
Where else to watch: Want a fairly close view but don’t want to fight your way to the Mall? You could pick a spot along the Mount Vernon Trail in Arlington, which offers plenty of space to set up a picnic plus stellar vistas across the river. Or rent a canoe or kayak from the Key Bridge Boathouse and paddle toward the monuments for crowd-free viewing. (Reservations open about a month ahead and sell out quickly.) Yet another option: Head to the Iwo Jima memorial in Rosslyn. You’ll still have to go through checkpoints, but the crowds tend to be smaller and the views are excellent—you see the Washington Monument, the Capitol, and the Lincoln Memorial from one vantage point.